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Pollution Law for Local Gov't
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The revision of the Environmental Protection Law should focus on limiting local governments' power and protecting citizens' rights, says a commentary in Beijing Youth Daily. An excerpt follows:

Pan Yue, vice-minister of State Environmental Protection Administration, stated recently that the revision of the Environment Protection Law should focus on holding local government responsible for environmental quality. He said that intervention by local governments in environmental law enforcement should be curbed.

In fact, 35 motions have been put forward to the National People's Congress and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference since 2004 calling for revising the Environmental Protection Law. They account for nearly half of the total motions on environmental legislation. After several serious environmental accidents in the past few years, people are now reaching consensus on the major problems in revising the law.

Almost all serious cases of breaking environmental laws related to local governments. Their inaction, intervention in law enforcement and harmful decisions are the major reasons for pollution. Therefore the revision of the Environmental Protection Law needs to make local governments accountable for environmental protection. The environmental laws should be more powerful in regulating government behavior.

In addition, citizens' environmental rights should be protected. The public should be given the right to know and supervise local governments' actions.

But under the current institutional framework, local people face huge difficulties in protecting their own right to health and life. The revision of the law should enhance citizens' rights.

By restricting local governments' power and guaranteeing citizens' rights, the revised law will enhance our legal framework and promote social harmony.

(China Daily March 2, 2007)

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